- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A bigger focus on health and fitness at Mott Community College will come along with millions of dollars in capital improvement projects over the next couple of years.

Although there are $85 million to $90 million worth of improvements that could be done throughout campus, college officials recently drew $10 million from the bond millage funds, MCC Chief Financial Officer Larry Gawthrop told The Flint Journal ( https://bit.ly/VOQSk7 ).

Some major projects on tap this year include improvements to the student parking structure and turning vacant space into rooms for health and fitness classes.

Some continuous projects include replacing roofs, replacing signs and flooring in classrooms.

“If we didn’t have this (millage money) we could not even begin to keep our facilities at a level that would be required for us (to operate),” Gawthrop said. “This is an integral part of the college’s funding.”

Taxpayers have been very generous in continuing support of the millage, Gawthrop said. In November, Genesee County tax payers approved a Mott Community College bond that will allow the school to borrow up to $50 million over the next several years to pay for improvements and upgrades to campus and technology.

Bond millage funds cannot be used for salaries or operating funds.

In the past, bond projects included renovations to the Mott library and improvements and upgrades to the Regional Technological Center.

“We have a very large list of projects that we go through and prioritize literally every month based on our needs. Having the bond money has allowed us to do so much more this year,” said Amanda Krok, assistant director of physical plant at Mott.

Mott students will soon see more options for fitness classes after the Durham Natatorium is renovated this year.

A year and a half ago, the pool inside the Durham Natatorium was filled in because the cost to keep up with repairs was too high. Then the building, which was built in 1957, sat vacant.

In the future, renovations will turn that space into a fitness center for academic instruction, fitness space and an open gym area. Old and new courses will use that space for class.

“It’s going to be really unique, that side of it. The college has never really had space like that,” Gawthrop said.

The renovations to Durham, located next to the Ballenger Fieldhouse, are in the design process with engineers, Krok said. There’s no timeline on when renovations would start or be completed yet.

But over the past couple of years, Mott has gotten some fitness instructors who have ramped up interest in the courses and the focus on fitness, Krok said.

“Students have been filling those up left and right,” she said.

Renovations to the more than 16,500-square-foot space would add a few small classrooms for instruction, create a fitness area with gym equipment and add an open gym space on the other end of the building.

“It’s going to have a range of uses all in one space. It’s a pretty exciting project,” Krok said.

Another major project that is finishing up are improvements done to the student parking structure costing around $1.5 million.

The parking deck was built in 1970 and should have a roughly 25- or 30-year lifespan. Already surpassing that, it’s important to keep them up as much as possible with improvements, Gawthrop said.

There are three parking structures on Mott’s campus, and to completely replace them would cost $15 million each, which is not an option right now, he said.

The parking decks require maintenance every year, Krok said.

They are in great shape, they just need more and more maintenance as they get older, Krok said.

“Mott, as you know, is a commuter campus. We need to have numerous bases for our students to come and park,” she said. “Having parking is absolutely vital. We have students at our main campus and our other campuses that come from all over to take classes at Mott.”

Another major project is to create an offsite disaster recovery network, a $1.5 million project that would protect important system and information kept on the college’s computer system.

The facility will be in Lapeer and engineering has already been done. The next step is to prepare the actual space, Gawthrop said.

An area that isn’t being used in Mott’s Lapeer campus would be prepared to house computers to keep all of Mott’s critical information, including human resources system, student records and the Blackboard system, said Cheryl Bassett, chief technology officer for Mott Community College.

Especially in the last two years there have been a lot of power outages at the college and even though the generator system has always kicked in, it’s 10 years old and having a backup system is the best option, Bassett said.

The space in Lapeer still needs to be prepped to make the room waterproof with raised flooring, with fiber-optics run to the building. When completed, planned for next year, the information would be able to be accessed remotely.

“The premise is if something happens to the sites in Flint, where we have all our computer services or such, like if a tornado came through, we would still be able to have that information,” Bassett said. “We’ve been around for 90 years. We don’t want to lose all that information.”


Information from: The Flint Journal, https://www.mlive.com/flint

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